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New Zealand tips for your memorable trip

by Catherine Carey | August 1, 2023
Lake Pukaki in New Zealand

To travel to New Zealand is the ultimate goal for adventure lovers. New Zealand tourist attractions include Lake Wakatipu and Skippers Canyon in Queestown, geysers and relaxing mud pools in Rotorua, Abel Tasman National Park and Fiordland National Park.

Remember you will need to get a visa the NZeTa. You can check with our eligibility verifier if your nationality allows you to get a NZeTA travel authorization. If you need another visa, read our article on different types of visas "How to get a visa for New Zealand".

You should make sure that, a part from the visa, you fulfill all entry requirements for New Zealand. In this article we will give you all New Zealand travel tips you need. You will find some New Zealand tips on tipping, what to pack, camping in New Zealand, how to travel to and around New Zealand, best time to visit New Zealand and many other travel tips in New Zealand. 

Do I need any vaccines to travel to New Zealand?

It is not compulsory to be vaccinated against anything to travel to New Zealand unless you come from a yellow fever endemic country, in which case you must present your yellow fever vaccination card. The recommended routine vaccines like tetanus, pertussis and triple virus.

It is always advisable to go to your international health centre to seek advice before going overseas.

Do I need a SIM card for New Zealand?

A vital travel tip for New Zealand is to get a SIM Card. You can find SIM cards from stores such as 2Degrees, Skinny, Warehouse Mobile, Spark or One NZ and also at airports like Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Queenstown Airport and Wellington International Airport.

There are SIM Cards for $5 NZD and prepaid plans that cost from $25 to $32 NZD that will give you about 3GB in data. Other companies can offer, as the highest plan, for $60 NZD for 10 GB of data over a month.

You should not have any problems using your phone in New Zealand. Nevertheless, in some remote areas be prepared to not have phone service or internet access, particularly on the South Island. Wifi isn’t great either, it is pretty slow. Some hotels may put a daily limit on WiFi usage per device or make you pay to be able to access WiFi.

Therefore, we recommend downloading offline maps and other important service numbers, just in case you don’t have a steady and stable internet connection. 

Travel tips for New Zealand: plan a camping holiday

If you are dreaming of camping in New Zealand, these camping tips for New Zealand will help you plan out the perfect New Zealand camping holiday.  

The most important tip is to know where you are allowed to camp. You will need todrive a certified self-contained campervan if you want to park up and stay the night somewhere for free. 

A self-contained campervan is a campervan that can store water for up to three days and it has to have some facilities like a Freshwater tank, 12 litres per person for three days, a wastewater tank  and a toilet (portable or fixed) which fits at least 3 litres per person for three days. If you don’t have that, you will need to stay in campsites and holiday parks.

Remember you can’t really stay anywhere for free. You can check out if you need to pay for the site in the Freedom Camping Rules in New Zealand: Region by Region. There are also some apps to find the best campsites in New Zealand like Campermate.

Opihi River in New Zealand

What should I pack for New Zealand?

A must-have in your luggage is sunscreen and any type of sun protecting gear. Due to the lack of ozone layer, location,in New Zealand the UV rays are intense in New Zealand. We recommend applying SPF 30 (at least) before spending time outside and reapplying before the 2 hour mark. You should also pack a sunhat and sunglasses. 

Since New Zealand is the place for outdoor activities, you should make sure you take swimming gear, hiking shoes and trekking shorts. Be prepared for unpredictable weather in New Zealand. Regardless of the season, carry a waterproof jacket and warm clothes. 

Don’t forget to bring layers. Since the weather can change quickly, you might find yourself sweating your original clothes or cold and in need of a thin jacket. Light wool is a good choice since it helps to regulate your body temperature.  Also remember to dress informal, kiws are laid back when it comes to dressing up.

Tipping in New Zealand?

In New Zealand there is no tipping culture. It’s more of a courtesy gesture than a norm. If you want to tip, you can give 10% of the final bill. It is important to know that in New Zealand they don’t low-ball retail prices. It is not the country for bartering and negotiation. 

What is the currency of New Zealand?

An important New Zealand travel tip is to get the New Zealand dollar. The New Zealand currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD $). You can find New Zealand dollar notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100, and coins of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and of 1 and 2 dollars.

The Exchange rate is around these numbers:

  • 1 EUR = 1.77 NZD
  • 1 USD = 1.5 NZD

Check up to date exchange rates before your trip. New Zealand is a very advanced country and very used to welcoming tourists. There are ATMs everywhere, and in all restaurants, airports, hotels etc., you can pay by credit card without any problem. Even so, it would help if you always carried some cash for smaller items.

Traveling tips New Zealand: How to travel to New Zealand?

You are planning to go to New Zealand, but do you know how to get around New Zealand? To get to New Zealand the easiest and fastest way is by plane. Auckland is the largest and where all major airlines fly into. 

Once there, you can rent a car or a campervan. This is one of the easiest ways to travel through the country and allow you to get to the most secluded places. Car rentals are fairly priced in NZ. Remember that New Zealanders drive on the left hand side of the road, so be aware when you're driving. 

There are other transport options, such as intercity buses, internal flights or even ferries depending on where you are heading to. It is worth mentioning that intercity buses travel to every place you can possibly imagine, and if you want to travel between the two islands, a ferry sails between Wellington and Picton several times a day.

Things to do in New Zealand

There are multiple things to do in New Zealand like seeing the movie set of Lord of the Rings, or sightseeing the natural beauty of the country by trekking hundreds of trails. Some of the top-recommended paid activities include visiting glowworm caves, kayaking, glacier hikes, skydiving, bungee jumping and jet boating come with a cost.

In the North Island there are routes around the Coromandel Peninsula, routes through Rotorua and the Waitomo Caves and in the South Island, there are the Franz Josef Glacier and Lake Matheson, Milford Sound, the route along Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, the route through Mount Cook and Roy's Peak in Wanaka.

jet boat in New Zealand one of the things to do in New Zealand

Tips for a Road trip: Travel tips for New Zealand

A trip to New Zealand is a dream come true, and the best way to enjoy it is through a New Zealand campervan trip. Renting a motorhome and making a campervan trip allows you to freely explore New Zealand's beautiful beaches and turquoise lakes, as well as enjoying countless spectacular mountain views and camping locations.

Knowing that the country has a generally good quality road network, travelling in a campervan around New Zealand offers a unique feeling of freedom and allows you to sleep in untouched places.

Keep in mind that there are areas of New Zealand where petrol stations are few and far between, so it is advisable to bring a full tank of petrol.

When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

The best time to visit New Zealand if you are looking for heat and summer, are the months of December, January and February. These 3 months are the warmest and sunniest. You can expect to find temperatures around 20 - 25˚C (68 - 77˚F).

If we are looking to skii in the mountains, you should go during the winter months, which is from June to August. The best months for hiking are spring and autumn, from September to November and from March to May respectively.

Safety travel tips in New Zealand

New Zealand is a safe country in which to travel, but you should never lose sight of your belongings and valuables. The most common dangers you may face are:

  • The roads can be dangerous for distracted tourists, as sheep are often walking around.
  • There can be small earthquakes.
  • The weather is unpredictable; hypothermia is a risk at high altitudes.
  • Be mindful of ocean currents, as they can carry swimmers away.
  • If you go hiking, be careful with biting insects and put on a good repellent.

Although having travel insurance is not mandatory, it is greatly recommended.

Other general New Zealand tips

  • New Zealand has very strict biodiversity rules in order to protect ecosystems, so you must declare any animal or food products you might be carrying in your luggage. 
  • Make use of the I-Sites. These are information sites that have maps and essential details about the location you’re at. 
  • 111 is the number to dial if you have any emergency.
  • New Zealand’s power outlets use the type 1 three-pin connectors. You should carry an adapter.